Category Archives: louisiana

All on a Mardi Gras Day: Mardi Gras Costumes

It goes without saying that Mardi Gras is my favorite time of year. Some years are better than others (remember how cold and rainy it was last year?) but the 2015 carnival season was as an epic one; I marched in four parades with Gris Gris Strut‘s marching band and Fat Tuesday was downright magical. The costumes, the partying, and the energy all added up to a firm reminder why I love my hometown so much. Mardi Gras never gets old.
Oh yea, and our Mardi Gras costumes were rain clouds. I used car sunshades and foam board to create the base for the hat. It was so windy there were times our hats would blow right off our heads. Navigating crowds was also challenging. At one point I popped into Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop to grab two purple drinks (yes, that’s the actual name) but the crowd was so dense that I had to take my hat off and thrust it upwards to try to gain clearance over everyone’s heads. Fortunately I didn’t piss anyone off. In fact, it seemed that most of the bar patrons gave kudos to my decision to limit my own mobility for the sake of costuming. That’s the best part about Mardi Gras, especially in the French Quarter and Marigny. Most revelers respect everyone else’s costume game, even when cumbersome accessories get in the way and make the streets hard to navigate. It’s all part of the Mardi Gras magic and I’m so grateful that I get to partake in it year after year.
 Check out my Tumblr for more Mardi Gras photos.

January, where did you go?

Oh. My. Goodness. January whipped past me. The fall semester started, I blinked, and now we’re in the middle of Mardi Gras.

Celebrated my birthday last week at Balise. 

Good finds at my friends Rebecca and Charlé’s pop up at Miette.

Zag, you’re it. 

A book that I got hired to work on just got published. Pick up a copy at Octavia Books.

Zulu display at Lakeside Mall.

My girls were hippos in a past life. 

Vintage ride on Napoleon Avenue.

My view from Knights of Sparta this past Saturday night. 

All photos via my Instagram account. 
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Kicking off Carnival: Krewe Du Vieux and Gris Gris Strut

Thomas looks like a disco hippie Jesus.
My décolletage was not ample enough to store my iPhone, hence the square stomach. 

Our friend Allie’s golden birthday fell on Krewe Du Vieux Saturday* this year, so we obliged to her request to wear gold to the parade in honor of her special day. My costume box is more like a costume closet, which makes it easy to piece together a somewhat cohesive look on the fly. 
This coming Saturday I’ll be marching in the Krewe of Sparta as part of the Gris Gris Strut Marching Band. Come out and cheer us on; it’s been over 15 years since I’ve marched but I can still keep time with the best of them. 
*We’re at that point in the carnival season when every day has a parade name: Bacchus Sunday, Endymion Saturday, etc…
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John Preble’s Self-Made World on The Toast

The Abita Mystery House is one of those places that just stayed with me after my initial visit. I’ve written about it here and again for the Driftwood back in the fall. Just when I thought I was done writing about the place, one of my professors suggested I interview John Preble, the owner, for a more in depth essay. So I did.
 “John Preble’s Self-Made World” is the result of two trips to the Abita Mystery House and several hours spent talking to Preble about how the Abita Mystery House came to be, his thoughts on folk art and museums, and the town of Abita Springs itself. I’m so proud to announce that my essay was selected by Roxane Gay for publication on The Butter, a subsidiary of The Toast. Read it by clicking here then go experience the Abita Mystery House for yourself. 

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Last moments of freedom

Lake Pontchartrain’s shallow waters resemble ocean waves on windy days. 

First King Cake of the season and my personal favorite:
Traditional from Haydel’s Bakery thanks to my Driftwood Features Editor. 

Chandelier at the Roosevelt Hotel. I’ve got a lot more on my Tumblr. 

I don’t always straighten my hair but when I do, it looks nice for about twenty minutes. 

I’m enjoying my last few days of freedom before going back to school on Monday. My winter break has been all extra long dog walks, sleeping in, sewing, spending time with family over Christmas, and catching up on Netflix and reading. I’m definitely in for a jarring first day back.

Lately I’ve been reflecting on the progress I’ve made since I returned to school in 2013. At first I was self conscious; being a 30 something college student can invoke a tail between the legs feeling at times. It wasn’t until last semester, when I became Editor-in-Chief of the student newspaper, that I said to myself, “You know what, #$%! it” and decided to embrace where I am at this moment in my life.
I’m hard on myself. I don’t sit back and revel in the small victories. As Jay Z put it, I’m always “On to the next one.” In 2015 I’m making a concerted effort to enjoy my remaining semesters as an undergrad. I might not drive a luxury vehicle, pop bottles in a hot tub every night, or have written a best selling book, but my work continues to be published in respectable magazines, I’ve got a Honda that just won’t quit (most writers probably drive sensible cars anyway), and damn it, the kiddie pool I bought this summer was the best purchase I’ve made in recent memory. 

At El Camino in Louisville, KY. If you go keep your menu away from the fire pit!

Copper & Kings brandy distillery in Louisville. I went on a tour when I visited my brother over Thanksgiving.

One of my favorite art installations at Exhibit Be. I found this one particularly lovely and haunting. 
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Christmas in New Orleans

Blech. Blah. Bah Humbug.

Christmas in New Orleans doesn’t even come close to the images commonly found on holiday greeting cards. One week we’re bundled up in boots and coats, the next week it’s perfectly acceptable to run errands in a t-shirt and flip flops.

I’m out of my normal routine because of my winter break at school, and the holidays have put me in a sugary slump thanks to overindulging in hot chocolate (even when the temperature reached 70 degrees this week), cookies, and pie. Instead of sitting around the house stuffing my face some more, I grabbed my camera, hopped on my bicycle, and went for a midnight ride down Saint Charles Avenue last night and attempted to photograph some New Orleans Christmas lights. I should have put a tripod on my holiday wish list (never mind that I don’t really celebrate), but these pictures came out okay despite not having one.

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Exhibit Be



Short story: Street artists from across the globe transformed an abandoned housing complex into a powerful art gallery.



Long story: I had the privilege of touring Project Be, an off-limits street art gallery, last summer. The makeshift space was like an “at your own risk” art crawl: broken glass, missing stairs, crumbled sheet rock, and other debris littered the dilapidated Florida housing project out in New Orleans East. A tour of Brandan Odums’ -and several other artists- work meant you had trespass. The local media jumped on the story, more people started to show up to view the art, and eventually Project Be was shuttered for good. 

Odums found a new space in Algiers and this time the property owner granted him permission to create “the largest single-site street art exhibit in the American South,” according to Odums’ website.

Exhibit Be attracted hundreds of people this past Saturday. It was only open to the public for one day, but rumors circulated that future events might take place. A part of Prospect 3, panel discussions, DJs, and food trucks added to the party atmosphere while still acknowledging the solemn subject matter of some of the art. The work was diverse as portraits of civil rights leaders, slain New Orleans children,  to giant carrots, dinosaurs, and more abstract figures.

The building is slated for demolition in the near future, which made the experience even richer. Exhibit Be exists to remember the past but only exists in the moment.

You can view more photos from the event on the Slow Southern Style Facebook page. It’s also worth your time to scroll #ExhibitBe on Instagram. 

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Halloween: Space Age Vikings

Thanks for the picture, Daniele!

Halloween used to be a special time for me. It was all treats, with the occasional trick from a finicky sewing machine. I used to labor away on our costumes, until a few years ago. A friend told me she didn’t realize how awesome our costumes were until she saw the pictures on Facebook the next day. “It was too dark and I was too drunk to appreciate them that night,” she admitted. That comment made me realize it wasn’t worth the hours hunched over leopard print faux fur, stitching wooden beads and hand cut fabric leaves to a chest plate. Halloween has lost a little bit of its luster, unfortunately, and I don’t know how to get it back. It’s the equivalent of your parents telling you Santa isn’t real. 
This year we slapped viking costumes together using pieces that we already owned. A few last minute purchases pulled the look together; his helmet and my shell necklace tied everything together. I told myself I would be okay with going light on the costumes this year, but everything about our look bothers me. I need a headpiece, his cape and loin cloth look half assed, and we’re more Ziggy Stardust than Eric “Bloodaxe” Haraldsson. My laissez-faire attitude caught up with me; next year I’ll focus on what satisfies my creative spirit and not let other people influence my decisions as much. 

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Flash Nonfiction: Guts And Glory

   Guts and Glory is a flash nonfiction story I wrote just as a writing exercise. It captures the spirit of childhood summers spent next to the swamp. I hope you enjoy it.
Guts And Glory
 
       “They look like sin dipped in misery,” Mom said. We called them katydids, science calls them Romalea guttata. They invaded our yard in biblical proportions; their bodies shined like freshly cooled lava.

         “I think they’re pretty when they flap their little red wings,” I responded.
The black grasshoppers copulated on our front yard at dusk, sometimes sneaking into the garage like lusty teenagers. One sweat soaked evening me and my brother invented our own pest control with Dad’s golf clubs- katydid hockey.
“Take that, sucker!” Chris yelled as a katydid skidded into the storm drain.
“Yeah, Chris, yeah!” I screeched with delight. Thick yellow guts painted the pavement like a Passover door. We stayed out until the mosquitoes launched an aerial attack, their needle noses drilling the napes of our necks. We were unaware that our game was a grasshopper massacre; our consciouses only existed in those fleeting moments of sunlight. We forgot our insect graveyard, oblivious to it until it was safe to resume our game the next evening. 


katydids
Bastards.
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Post Katrina Musings- I never plan on doing these.

   
This isn’t a Katrina story per se, but it does represent a time of uncertainty in my life in the months immediately after the storm. I didn’t intend to post a Katrina memorial; I wrote this piece as a writing exercise for class based on Kathleen Hill’s work Forgiveness. (We had to start with “It happened.”) I thought it would be quasi appropriate to share. Love it or hate it, let me know what you think in the comments below.
Blind Dates in the Desert
       It happened inside the Starbucks on Scottsdale Road. I sat down with last month’s National Geographic and a coffee that cost as much as my used Honda. I was new to town, a New Orleans gal that felt about as comfortable in the desert as an alligator. My husband and I moved to the Phoenix suburb a few weeks after we evacuated for Hurricane Katrina.

     We decided to start somewhere new instead of taking a chance on my water logged hometown. Prior to the move, we had only spent time in Flagstaff, Arizona, Scottsdale’s patchouli laden, hiking boot wearing Northern cousin. Snottsdale, as the locals called it, wore stiletto heels and Chanel No. 5. Her boyfriend drove a Hummer and wore sunglasses at night.
     As I sipped on my caramel mocha latte, the couple sitting across from us piqued my curiosity. They were clearly on a blind date, and judging by the reverse magnetism of their body language, sparks weren’t flying.
     “So,” he asked her, readjusting his glasses to the bridge of his nose. “Do you have a carport or a garage?”
     “I have a garage.” she said, uncrossing her arms just long enough to push her long blonde mane out of her face.
     “Oh, that’s really nice.” he replied, even more unsure of himself than before. They sat in awkward silence, anxiously waiting for a connection. Something. Anything.
     “You?” She asked.
     “I have a carport.”
     “Oh, I used to have a carport, but now I have a garage. I like them both!” she feigned a modicum of excitement, the conversational equivalent of shoving your feet into a pair of shoes that are two sizes too small.
     I leaned over to my husband, who was wrapped up in Nietzsche. “This is so painfully awkward. Are you listening to this?”
     “Trying to.” he admitted.
     “They must be on a blind date.”
     “They’re so boring.”
     “So what does that make us?”
     “Judgmental and petty, because we have nothing better to do.”
     “Well, yeah, that’s true.” I said, looking out the window at the dusty red mountains that loomed in the distance.
     “I can guarantee that neither of them are getting laid tonight, at least not by each other.”
     “Yea, that’s for sure.”
     “What’s wrong with us, judging people like that?
     “Eh, it’s entertaining.” he said, and we both went back to reading.

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